Education? More than worth it

  • Published
  • By Maj. Dominic Bernardi III
  • 55 Mission Support Squadron commander
It's been a long, cold day. You are tired, and on top of that you have class tonight. Will that piece of paper be worth it? Yes!

For many people, the number one reason for joining the military has always been education. The Air Force offers unmatched educational support which, if taken advantage of, can provide Airmen a solid foundation for future growth in the military or civilian life.

Continuing your education is important to every member of this expeditionary Air Force. The exposure to new ideas, development of concepts and awareness of different cultures is vitally important as we deploy around the world. Education also opens you as an individual to different possibilities. Whether they are promotions or new job opportunities the doors are often opened through increased education levels.

I grew up with high educational expectations and there was never a question of not continuing my education, even in light of my somewhat spotty academic record. However, the expectation was also that it would be my effort and my investment. It took me a couple of years to understand the need for goals and expectations in a course of study, but once I did, an Air Force commission was just one of the possibilities opened up to me.

I encourage you to set high expectations for yourself and take advantage of the great education benefits offered by the Air Force. Just like a parent, the Air Force expects you take advantage of opportunities, make a commitment and use what is available to improve yourself. As an example of that expectation you only need to look to promotion rates; they are rare without the appropriate level of voluntary and professional education.

Why does the Air Force place such high value on education? The relatively small investment made in you yields enormous returns for everyone; improving yourself improves the AF as a whole. Education, especially when combined with work experience, stretches your comfort zones and makes you challenge, scrutinize and probably improve your environment.

Today you hear a lot about AFSO-21, which is simply a methodology that embodies the review of processes and environment. But without educated personnel using that methodology, it is simply an exercise in analysis, not a true producer of improvements. The continuous growth and education of Airmen, and their efforts to improve environment and processes, is what keeps the Air Force the premier force in today's ever-changing world.

The Base Education Center is your portal to the generous benefits the Air Force offers and it is easy to take advantage of 100% tuition assistance. Enroll for the Montgomery GI Bill ($36,144.00 for a $1,200 contribution), seek reimbursement for one-time certification/licensure, take CLEP/DANTES tests, or simply ask questions using the counseling services. The net effect of these benefits is to make out-of-pocket cost for our Airmen minimal. With only one personal visit, you can establish a degree plan and after that, you can apply for tuition assistance, seek course-planning information and even take your courses on-line from your home computer.

This is an awesome resource for any Airman, but especially for shift workers and those who are deployed. Whether looking for traditional classroom education, blended computer/classroom programs or strictly on-line courses, our Education Center can help.

Offutt annually supports enrollments of over 6,000 students in 200+ different colleges/technical programs and pays out over $3million for tuition assistance, with the results being over 650 degrees awarded just last year. We can find a program that meets your educational needs - anywhere, any time and I challenge you to motivate yourself and use these programs to create a better future - for you and the Air Force.